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Passover (Pesach)
Other Jewish Holidays


The Story of Passover: It’s History and OriginsAff Exclusive 15% (120x90)



Passover is a Jewish holiday that is celebrated in remembrance of the Jew’s exodus from Egypt. The holiday is celebrated over an eight-day period (seven days in Israel). On the evening of the first two days (only the first night in Israel), there are special meals called Seders in which the story of the departure of the Jews from the Egyptian Pharaoh is recited.


The Meaning of Passover

The name of the holiday is really Pesach, as it is pronounced in Hebrew.  The English definition of Pesach is to “pass over” or to “pass through.” The holiday probably became known in English as Passover because it sounds (a little) like Pesach and provides insight into the story of Passover, where the Angel of Death “passed over” the homes of the Jews.


When is Passover Celebrated? (When does Passover Begin?)

Passover begins on the 15th day of Nissan, which is a month on the Jewish calendar.  The Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar and does not come out the same time on the Gregorian calendar each year.  However, it is usually celebrated some time around April.

The dates for Passover over the next few years is as follows:

Jewish Calendar         American/Gregorian Calendar

5765                            April 23, 2005

5766                            April 12, 2006

5767                            April 2, 2007

5768                             April 19, 2008


Also note, the holiday begins at Sunset for the Gregorian calendar.  So, the holiday in 2007 would begin at sunset on April 2nd.


Fast of the Firstborn

The day before Passover is a minor Jewish holiday in which the first born males of each holiday are required to fast to remember the slaying of the first born Egyptian males, which was the final plague brought upon the Egyptians before letting the Jews leave.


Chametz, Matzah and What to Eat on Passover

Because of the haste in which the Jews left Egypt, they did not have much time to do thinks like bake bread.  Since they were in a hurry, they did not let bread rise all the way.  This unleavened bread is called Matzah.  To remember their plight, Jews do not eat food that rises during the eight days of the holiday.  This food is called Chametz (Choometz).  When you see a label that says “Kosher for Passover,” it means that none of the ingredients in the product include Chametz.


Basically, Chametz includes anything made from grains (such as barley, oats, rye, spelt and wheat) that are allowed to cook (rise) for 18 minutes or more. Jews of Eastern European decent also add corn, legumes, peanuts and rice to the list of foods not to eat during this holiday since they are common in making bread.


Jews are not allowed to eat Chametz during the holiday –in fact, they are not even allowed to own it.  Jewish observers will either clean their homes of all Chametz or sell them to non-Jews. To sell the Chametz, the food usually goes into some type of storage (or a closet/container in ones own house that is closed for the holiday) and is “sold” to the non-Jew, where it is sold back at the end of the holiday.  This restriction even applies to cooking ware, plates, utensils, etc, that have touched Chametz during the year.  Many Jews have separate sets of cookware, utensils and dishes that are only used for these eight days.  There is also a major cleaning of the entire house to make sure there is not even a crumb of Chametz left – it is also a great way to make sure that spring cleaning gets done. On the morning of Passover, any leftover Chametz is then burned.


Matzah then becomes the food of choice for Passover. Everything that previously needed some type of Chametz is substituted with ingredients that include Matzah – which is unleavened bread.  Over the past decade, the commercial retailers of Passover foods have become very adventurous and using only Kosher for Passover ingredients, now sell Bagels, Pizzas and Pastas.


The First Order of Business: The Seder

Thee are special meals called Seders on the first two nights of Passover (only the first night if celebrated within Israel).  These meals comprise a recital of the story of the Passover, prayers, games and a festive meal.  The translation of Seder in English is “order.” This is because the Seder has an order and is layed-out in a prayer book called a Haggadah. [I have links to online text of the Haggadah above]


The order of the Seder is as follows:


1)     First Glass of Wine (Kaddesh)

2)     Washing of the Hands

3)      Eating of the Karpas (vegetable, usually parsley) and dipping it in salt water (symbolizing the tears of   the Jewish slaves in Egypt)

4)     Breaking of the Matzah into three pieces and removing the middle piece called the Afikomen.

5)     Telling of the Passover Story (and the Four Questions)

a.      This is the story of how a Jew named Moses was raised as the son of the Pharaoh’s daughter (they did not know he was Jewish).  He later discovered his true identity and with the power of G-d tried to free the Jews (who were slaves in Egypt). He did so by causing ten plagues to be brought upon the Egyptian people. After the last plague, the slaying of the firstborn males by the Angel of Death (who spared those that put the blood of a sacrificial lamb on their doors). Moses then led the Jews out of Egypt with the Egyptian Army close behind (who were swallowed up by the water). He first led them to where they could receive the 10 commandments, then spent the next fourty years traveling the desert until they reached the promised land of milk and honey . . . Israel.

b.     Other stories relating to the Jew’s flight are also infused during the Seder, including the Four Questions, where the youngest person at the table asks the questions about what is Passover and why do Jews celebrate it the way they do.

6)     Washing of the hands

7)     Blessing over the Matzah

8)     Eating the Bitter Herbs – the Marror (to remember the bitterness the Jews faced in Egypt).

9)     Eating the Korch – the Passover Sandwich (the Marror is combined with Charoset (a pasty substance made usually from apples, wine and nuts to symbolize the mortar used by the slaves to build) and placed on the Matzah to form a type of sandwich.

10)  The Festive Meal – usually a really big meal with lots of food and dishes.  Some of the traditional dishes include matza ball soup, gefilete fish, chicken, brisket, matza farfel and of course, matzah followed by desert.

11)  Hiding of the Afikomen – the traditions may differ, but in many families, the afikomen (the piece of matzah broken apart in step 4) is hidden by the head of the household and the children then try to find the matzah.  If the do, they will receive a prize.  This is done to keep the young children awake during the seder.

12) The after meal grace

13) Praises to the Lord

14) The closing of the Seder.


The first two nights of the holiday are the Seders, two very festive dinners intertwined with the story of Passover.  The traditional gifts of the holiday are provided during this Seder.  In order to keep the young children awake until the conclusion of the prayers and story, a piece of Matzah (Matzo) (unleavened bread) is hidden. At the end of the night, the kids have to find the Matzah, and when they do, they each get a present.  However, when visiting someone's house for a Seder, it is always nice to bring something to their house.


Passover Gift Ideas:

  • Gift Basket of Fruit or Sweets

  • Wine

  • Flowers

  • Chocolate Covered Matzah

  • Religious Articles

Note: If you are going to a Kosher home, make sure the food and drink is Kosher for Passover.


General Passover Websites

Passover ( – Tons of information, facts and stories about Passover.

Passover/Pesach (Judaism 101) - Information, history and stories about the holiday.

Passover/Pesach ( -  Information, gifts, gift ideas and links to resources about the Passover holiday.

Passover How-To: Festival of Liberation ( - The story of the holiday, history, and information on celebrating Pesach including an online Haggadah.

Pesach at ( – Information about the holiday and the laws of kosher for Passover.

Passover (Kids Domain): A fun site with information and activities for the holiday.

Passover Celebrations ( – Information and facts about the holiday.

Passover on the Net ( The story of Passover, information about the Seder and other facts about the holiday.

The Story of Passover: Passover/ Pesach History and Facts

In a Nutshell: The Passover Story ( – The basic story of Moses leading the Jewish people out of bondage from Egypt and into Israel.

Passover ( – Information and history of the Passover holiday and its observance.

Passover ( – Information on the origins, traditions and observation of the Passover celebration.

Passover Basics ( – Basic information about the holiday.

The Story of Passover ( - What is Passover? And why are we celebrating?

What is Passover ( – Brief overview of the Passover holiday.

Kosher for Passover & Preparing for the Holiday

The Day Before Passover ( – “The day before Passover is a very busy time: Search for Chametz, Burning the Chametz, Fast of the First Born, Preparing for the seder and more...”

Getting Rid of Chametz Wizard ( – “A step by step wizard to walk you through the steps of ridding your home from chametz; specially tailored to the scheduling complexities of this year's schedule.”

Kosher For Passover (Kosher4Passover) - Information on how to maintain the dietary laws of this holiday.

Passover 2005, 5765 ( – Information about keeping kosher for Passover from “The Premier Kosher Information Source on the Internet”

Passover Observance and Product List ( – Answers most of your questions about Pesach observance.

Preparing for Passover ( – “The science of preparing for this holiday is as ancient as the holiday itself.”

Regarding Matzah ( Information about the unleavened bread eaten during this holiday.

Passover Activities and Fun

Kanukat Passover ( – Passover children’s stories and activities.

Passover for Kids ( – Games, activities and other things for the kids to do with a Passover theme.

Passover Family Activities ( – Games, stories, crafts and fun things to do for Passover.

Passover Link Pages

Kosher4Passover ( – Extensive list of links to information on the Passover holiday and the dietary observance for the food.

Passover Seder, the Haggadah,  and the Four Questions

The 4 Questions ( - Why is this night different than all other nights? Find the answers here.

The Haggadah ( -  Complete Text of the Hagadah with instructional guide”

The Haggadah ( – Over three dozen articles about the Haggadah and the Seder meal.

Miriam’s Cup ( - New Passover seder ritual honoring the contributions of women to Jewish culture.

The Passover Seder ( - The main event of the holiday, come along as we show you what this special meal is all about.

Pesach Seder: How is This Night Different . . . ( – Information about the Passover meal and an explanation of the items that go on the seder plate.

The Seder ( – “Your complete guide to a successful seder experience: Includes the essential ingredients, how to prepare for the seder, and the trademark step-by-step ‘wizard’.”

Seder and Hagadah Insights ( – “Elucidating commentary on every stage of the seder.”

Seder Overview ( – “A quick, one page overview of the seder's steps”

Passover Recipes (for Seder Dinner, Breakfast, Lunch Dinner, Matza Balls, etc.)

Passover Entertaining Advice (

Passover Gourmet Cookbook (

Passover Recipes (

Passover Recipes (

Passover Recipes (

Passover Recipes (

Pesach Recipes (

Passover Multimedia

Celebrate Passover: Listen ( – A bunch of Passover songs you can listen to with Real Player.

Passover Clip Art ( – Links to websites with Passover related clip art.

Passover Multimedia ( – Interactive games, videos and more with a Pesach theme.

Passover Multimedia ( – Listen to mp3s of Passover tunes and songs.

Passover Music

The Music of Passover ( Turn up the Speakers and Put on Your Dancing Shoes!

Passover Songbook ( – A list of songs (with lyrics) you can sing on Passover.

Dates of Passover & an observance of the days

Counting the Omer ( – “The counting of the Omer begins on the second night of Passover and extends until Shavout.”

The Passover Calendar ( - An overview of the days of Passover

The Yahrzeit Candle / Yizkor Service ( –“ 4 times a year Jews light a special candle in memory of loved ones who have died [Including Passover]. Here is the schedule when to light the candle.”

List of Passover Dates

Pesach will occur on the following days of the Gregorian calendar:

2005 (5765) - Sunset of April 23 - Sundown May 1st

2006 (5766) - Sunset of April 12 - Sundown April 20

2007 (5767) - Sunset of April 2 - Sundown April 10

2008 (5768) - Sunset of April 19 - Sundown April 27

Passover Stories

Stories ( – Various stories with a Passover theme.



The New York Times Passover Cookbook icon

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Passover Gift Basket

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Last modified: March 20, 2012

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